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Sweden drops probe in Julian Assange ‘rape’ case

Swedish authorities have dropped the rape allegation into Julian Assange. Credit: PA

The alleged rape investigation involving WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, who is now jailed in Britain, has been discontinued, a Swedish prosecutor has said.

Deputy Chief Prosecutor Eva-Marie Persson spoke on Tuesday as she gave an update on the Swedish case.

She said prosecutors had made the decision because the evidence has “weakened considerably” due to the long period of time that has elapsed since the events in question.

“I would like to emphasise that the injured party has submitted a credible and reliable version of events," Ms Persson said.

"Her statements have been coherent, extensive and detailed; however, my overall assessment is that the evidential situation has been weakened to such an extent that that there is no longer any reason to continue the investigation."

Assange has been in custody since being removed from the Ecuadorian embassy in London where he had initially been granted asylum.

He had been wanted in Sweden over the rape claims but is also sought by US authorities over his WikiLeaks activities.

Assange is in Belmarsh Prison awaiting extradition demands from the United States.

Assange is still being sought by US authorities over his WikiLeaks activities. Credit: PA

WikiLeaks has welcomed the decision by the Swedish authorities to drop the alleged rape investigation into Julian Assange.

Kristinn Hrafnsson, WikiLeaks editor-in-chief, said: "Sweden has dropped its preliminary investigation into Mr Assange for the third time, after reopening it without any new evidence or information.

"Let us now focus on the threat Mr Assange has been warning about for years: the belligerent prosecution of the United States and the threat it poses to the First Amendment."

Assange was removed from the Ecuadorian embassy in London where he had initially been granted asylum. Credit: PA

A statement issued by the Swedish prosecuting authorities said: “The preliminary investigation concerning allegations against Julian Assange was resumed on 13 May 2019 after Assange left the Ecuadorian embassy in London.

“The investigation relates to a suspected rape committed in August 2010. A number of investigative measures have been conducted since May, largely in the form of witness interviews.

“The preliminary investigation has now been discontinued, the motive for which is that the evidence has weakened considerably due to the long period of time that has elapsed since the events in question.”

A spokesman for Mr Assange’s legal team said: “From the outset of Sweden’s preliminary investigation, Julian Assange’s expressed concern has been that waiting in the wings was a United States extradition request that would be unstoppable from Sweden – and result in his spending the rest of his life in a US prison.

“Now that the US does seek Mr Assange’s extradition to stand trial on unprecedented charges for journalistic work, it continues to be a matter of extreme regret that this reality has never been properly acknowledged and that the process in Sweden – with which Mr Assange has always expressed his willingness to engage and indeed did so – became so exceptionally politicised itself.”